Walking through several security checkpoints, I entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) located next door to the West Wing. The EEOB houses the majority of the White House staff. I took an elevator up and was ushered into a room carpeted in deep red with a familiar rich blue backdrop. Feeling like I had walked onto the set of television’s The West Wing, I sat in awe of the many Obama staff who represented the Departments of Education, Justice, Human and Health Services, Defense and State.
When I accepted this invitation, I didn’t realize what a historic event this would be. But listening to LGBT Directors, Deputy Directors and various other staff that work for President Obama, the common thread that I heard was how important this day was to intersect both LGBT issues and those concerns of the Asian Pacific Islander community.
The two and a half hours flew by. Five youth shared their moving stories. LGBT staff serving the President shared their personal stories and updates on what is being done to support the LGBT/API community. I brought up issues of alternative safe schools in the form of charters and was able to make connections with a Deputy Director from the Department of Education and a Senior Adviser on White House Initiatives. I want to continue discussion on how to create more safe places for youth to get their high school diploma like the program we have operating at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.
As I left the meeting, what I remember most is this . . . each of us who are standing up for equality, whether LGBT, straight ally or Asian Pacific Islander . . . each LGBT individual courageously living their life as their true selves, bring hope not only to those in our nation, but those around the world. Our voices and our presence truly matter. Let us never be silent . . . .